Category Archives: sayings

breaking bread

Today is Thanksgiving in the US, a holiday marked primarily by having a large meal together with family and/or loved ones. In previous years, I’ve set the table with utensils, and served up some turkeys. This year, I want to make sure we include bread (and a few other bready baked goods) in our ongoing ThThTh feast.

  • break bread: an expression meaning “have a meal together with people”
  • “Breaking Bread,” a song by Johnny Cash
  • “bumped his head on a piece of bread”: a line from the song/nursery rhyme “It’s raining, it’s pouring” in the version I learned as a child (though not in more commonly known versions). Did anyone else learn this version?

    It’s raining, it’s pouring
    The old man in snoring.
    Bumped his head on a piece of bread,
    And didn’t get up till morning.

  • bread: a slang term for money
  • breadwinner: one who earns money for a household
  • dough: another term for “bread” as in “I’ll need some dough to buy bread”
  • dough: a mixture of flour, water and other ingredients used to bake bread, as in “I’ll knead some dough to bake bread.”
  • The Pillsbury Doughboy: an anthropomorphic wad of dough used to sell products for Pillsbury.
  • half a loaf is better than no bread or half a loaf is better than none: an expression meaning, roughly “getting something is better than getting nothing”
  • “Half a loaf is better than low bred:” a joke made by John Steed in The Avengers episode “The Correct Way to Kill
  • The Little Red Hen: a fairy tale about a hard-working, wheat-growing, flour-grinding, bread-baking hen who gets no help from her lazy companions, who prefer to loaf.
  • “give us this day our daily bread:” a line from the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer recited by Christian church-goers
  • bread line: a queue to receive food from a charitable organization
  • whitebread: a slang adjective used to describe someone whose tastes are bland and culturally mainstream, or things associated with such a person. Such as white bread.
  • bun in the oven: an expression meaning “knocked up”
  • The Muffin Man: an English nursery rhyme. Do you know the muffin man?
  • muffin top: the lumps of flesh about the waist caused by wearing pants that are too tight
  • Hansel and Gretel: in this fairy tale, two children leave a trail of breadcrumbs to mark their path so that they won’t get lost in the woods. It’s not a particularly effective method.
  • bread is the staff of life: a saying about the importance of bread. Etymology online says:

    Staff of life “bread” is from the Biblical phrase “to break the staff of bread” (Lev. xxvi.26), transl. Heb. matteh lekhem.

    I’ll take a page from Magpie and redirect you to this blogger, who poked further into the orgins of the phrase.

  • “I’ll grind his bones to make my bread,” a line spoken by the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk:

    Fee-fi-fo-fum!
    I smell the blood of an Englishman.
    Be he ‘live, or be he dead,
    I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.

  • the best thing since sliced bread: an expression said appreciatively of something really innovative, or just something really good. Often said facetiously.
  • bread and circus: as the wiki says, since I’m too tired/lazy to say something on my own “is a metaphor for handouts and petty amusements that politicians use to gain popular support, instead of gaining it through sound policy”
  • Project Bread, a Massachusetts anti-hunger organization. I’ll donate $5.00 to them for each commenter who includes the name of a type of bread in the comments below.

image credits: bread from wpclipart, Little Red Hen from Ella M. Beebe Picture Primer (New York: American Book Company, 1910) 87 from clipart ETC.

the swine flew

“Thinking again?” the Duchess asked, with another dig of her sharp little chin.
“I’ve a right to think,” said Alice sharply, for she was beginning to feel a little worried.
“Just about as much right,” said the Duchess, “as pigs have to fly….”
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 9.

Everyone knows that pigs can’t fly.

Except, of course, when they do. And fly they do, in all sorts of lore and literature, song and show, and even in a few airborne vessels. This ThThTh list is hog-wild for the swine of the skies.

A list of flying pigs

  • when pigs fly: an expression by which a speaker can convey the opinion that a given event will never happen. As in “this blog will be awarded a Pulitzer when pigs fly.”
  • when pigs grow wings: an expression that means “when pigs fly”
  • Pigs Have Wings, by P.G. Wodehouse. A book by the author of the Jeeves and Wooster series.
  • Flying Pig: a character on Kids in the Hall, portrayed by Bruce McCulluch. He is a winged pig who flies and “entertains people at bank-machines and other of life’s many lineups.” (See him in flight on YouTube.)

    flying pig kith

  • Pigasus: various references to winged pigs. The name plays on Pegasus (a winged horse)
  • Cincinnati: this city has adopted a winged pig as a mascot. The city has a Flying Pig Marathon.
  • pb125575

    A flying pig mug I bought at the Cincinatti airport.

  • references to flying pigs are used in many different business such as restaurants and art galleries . I’ve bought bread adorned with a winged pig from a bakery called When Pigs Fly. There’s evenFlying Pig Eyewear.
  • logo 111 flyingpig f

  • winged pigs have become so ubiquitous as to be commonly used for decoration, such as adorning weathervanes
  • “Pigs on the Wing”, a song by Pink Floyd
  • The first recorded pig flight took place in England in 1909. (source)

    The first historically recorded flight of a pig took place on British soil, at Leysdown in Kent in 1909. The pig was carried aloft by J.T.C. Moore-Brabazon, later the First Lord Brabazon of Tara, in his personal French-built Voisin aero plane.

    The pig was placed into a wicker basket, which was in turn strapped to a wing strut of the aero plane. A hand-lettered sign attached to the basket read: ‘I am the first pig to fly.’ Brabazon purposefully carried the pig aloft, thereby disproving the long help opinion that ‘pigs can not fly.’

  • More recently another flying pig made the news after a flight on a commercial airline
  • piscrew pigs in spaceship

  • Pigs in Space: these pigs from the Muppet Show have mastered not just flight, but space flight.

  • ad astra per alia porci: Steinbeck’s motto “To the stars on the wings of a pig” (found via the blog On Pig’s Wings, taking its name “from Steinbeck, whose motto, described his status as a ‘lumbering soul but trying to fly.'” )
  • Can’t get enough flying pigs? Lots more about them can be found at Porkopolis, a website devoted to all things porcine. Be sure to check posts in the category “flight,” and the informative post A Brief History of Pigs and Flight. Flying pigs have their own Wiki page, too.

remember, remember

four lobes of the cerebral cortexIt’s the 5th of November. Which makes me remember some things about remembering.

I’m fascinated by memory, and clearly I’m not alone, judging from the large number of movies, stories, songs and such that feature themes of memory. Or loss of memory. Here’s a ThThTh list of some things I can remember:

    Some memory-related things that come to mind

  • The poem about Guy Fawkes day:

    Remember, remember the fifth of November,
    The gunpowder treason and plot,
    I know of no reason
    Why the gunpowder treason
    Should ever be forgot.

  • remember the Alamo!
  • mnemonic devices: phrases, poems or other sayings used to aid the memory for specific facts, such as:
    • Roy G. Biv (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet: the order of colors in the rainbow)
    • homes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior: i.e. the Great Lakes)

    (more mnemonic devices here)

  • string on finger

  • string tied around a finger: if you need to remember something, you can tie a string around your finger as a reminder that there was something you were supposed to remember. This relies on you being able to remember what it was that you hoped to remember.
  • souvenir: a keepsake or memento, typically from a visit to a place to which one has travelled. From the French verb souvenir, “to remember”
  • memento: an object kept to remember a time, place or event. From the latin remember:

    L. memento “remember,” imperative of meminisse “to remember,” a reduplicated form, related to mens “mind.” Meaning “reminder, warning” is from 1582; sense of “keepsake” is first recorded 1768. (from etymology online)

  • Memento (2000): a movie about a man who loses his ability to form new memories.
  • The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004): a movie in which people can undergo a process of selective memory erasure.
  • Chester Tate: A character on the 70s TV show Soap who spends several episodes with amnesia.
  • “Tabula Rasa,” a Buffy episode: A spell gone awry causes the main characters to forget who they are. Hilarity ensues. (Seriously, it’s a really fun, funny episode.)
  • “The Forget me Knot,” an episode of The Avengers in which Emma Peel forgets who she is. (This was Diana Rigg’s last episode on the series.)
  • Forget Me Not,” an amnesia episode of Gilligan’s Island (Okay, I didn’t actually remember this one, guessed that there was an amnesia episode.)
  • For that matter, there are probably plenty of episodes from sci-fi shows like those in the Star Trek and Star Gate universes.
  • The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996): Geena Davis plays an amnesiac ex-spy
  • The Bourne Identity (2002): Matt Damon plays an amnesiac ex-spy
  • Who am I?/Wo shi shei (1998): Jackie Chan plays an amnesiac spy.
  • Total Recall (1990) Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a spy whose memories were re-written
  • lots more movies and shows with a memory (or loss of memory) theme can be found here:
  • “I Don’t Remember,” a song by Peter Gabriel

    I don’t remember, I don’t recall
    I got no memory of anything at all

  • “I can’t forget,” a song by Leonard Cohen. I can’t forget, but I don’t remember what.
  • “Only a Memory,” a song by the Smithereens
  • The Persistence of Memory: famous Salvador Dalí painting with melting watches
  • memory: a card game also known by the name “concentration”
  • memory: a computer component for storing data
  • ddr ram

  • Remember when Chris Farley interviewed people? Remember how he interviewed Paul McCartney? That was awesome.

    Chris Farley: You remember when you were with the Beatles?
    Paul McCartney: Yes.
    Chris Farley: That was awesome.

moo

With Chinese New Year having brought us into the Year of the Ox, it seems a good time to bring on the bovines.

Seeing as oxen aren’t all that plentiful in the universe of things in my head, Babe aside¹, I’ve decide to round up some more plentiful bovines instead. This ThThTh brings you cows².

A herd of cow things

  1. Cows are used in the branding of several companies, such as Ben & Jerry’s (ice cream, which is a dairy product), La Vache Qui Rit/Lauging Cow cheese (more dairy products), A black and white cowhide pattern is also used for Gateway Computers, which are computers made entirely out of cheese. Or are they made out of beef?
  2. ben_and_jerrys gatewaylogo vache_qui_rit

  3. cow pie: Not anlagous to a chicken pie, this is not a beef-filled pastry.
  4. cowlick: a section of hair that grows in the wrong direction, sticking out as if licked by a cow.
  5. Vachement: a French slang adverb. Vache being the word for cow, and -ment being an adverbial suffix along the lines of -ly, vachement could be translated as “cowly.”
  6. Graceless, Aimless, Feckless and Pointless: the cows from Cold Comfort Farm (1995), one of my all time favorite movies. (Also in the novel by Sella Gibbons). Loads of other movies featuring cows, can be found at a cow-obsessed website called Bovine Bazaar.
  7. “The cow jumped over the moon”: a famous line from “Hey Diddle Diddle”
  8. cow_jump_over_moon

  9. sacred cows: Cows are holy in the Hindu religion, and are allowed to roam the streets freely in India.
  10. holy cow! An exclamation of surprise. Holy cow! That’s a lot of cows roaming the streets!
  11. “Cows,” A chorus-line inspired song off of Sandra Boynton’s album Philadelphia Chickens.
  12. Cow Parade: a large scale art project/event in which life-sized plastic cow models are painted and/or decorated as works of art and put on display. First seen in Chicago, and later in other cities around the world.
  13. Mrs. O’Leary’s cow: the cow blamed for starting the Great Chicago Fire by kicking over a lantern. She has since been cleared of the arson charges, as she didn’t really exist.
  14. Don’t have a cow, man. An expression meaning “don’t get upset.” A catchphrase used by Bart on The Simpsons.
  15. How now, brown cow? A saying used to practice the diphthong [aʊ], which is contained in each of the words.
  16. “I never saw a purple cow.”: a children’s rhyme.

    I never saw a purple cow.
    I never hope to see one.
    But I can tell you, anyhow,
    I’d rather see than be one.

  17. till the cows come home: an idiom meaning “all day long” or “for a long time.” I could list cows till the cows come home.

cow_sketched

¹ The blue ox, not the pig.
²I’ll spare you the bull, or at least the bulls, for now.

logs, blogged

250px-fireplace-rmIt’s getting to be cold and wintry around here. Seems like a good time to throw a few logs on the fire. Or to throw some logs on a list.

a load of logs

  • Yule log: a big hunk of wood burned as a Christmas or Yule tradition. Some places, like the town of Beulah, Colorado, have Yule Log Festival.
  • The WPIX Yule Log Special: a televised broadcast of a log burning in a fireplace.
  • Bûche de Noël: a cake shaped like a log that is a traditional Christmastime dessert in France.
  • easy as falling off a log: an idiom meaning very easy to do. Doesn’t usually involve the bruising or fractures that might happen from actually falling off a log.
  • log: an abbreviation of logarithm
  • ship’s log: a weighted piece of wood once used to measure the speed of a ship. It was attached to a rope with knots tied at set intervals, and tossed overboard:

    It was tossed overboard attached to a line having knots in it at known distances. The number of knots played out, correlated with a reading from a special sandglass, called a log glass, gave the ship’s speed. The term knot, meaning one nautical mile per hour, comes from the knots in the log line.

  • ship’s log: a shortening of “ship’s logbook,” a journal where the ship’s speed and other events were, um, logged.
  • weblog, or “blog”: a website where short articles are published in reverse chronological order. A quaint custom of the early 2000s. Typically used to share in-depth political analyses, complain about in-laws or share horror stories of ingrown toenails.
  • logjam: a blockage caused by logs clogging a waterway. Also used metaphorically to mean a clog or blockage. As in “I can’t get any work done due to this logjam of blog posts in my feed reader.”
  • “Log Jamming”: a fictitious porn movie from The Big Lebowski.
  • log rolling: a sport involving balancing on a log that’s rolling in water.
  • saw logs: a pair of homophonous expressions pertaining to lumber and slumber. The noun is about big pieces of wood that can be sawed. The verb is about snoring.
  • logger: a person who works in the logging trade, also known as a lumberjack. When not sawing logs, lumberjacks like to put on women’s clothing and hang around in bars:
  • log cabin: A house constructed of logs.
  • Log Cabin: a brand of maple syrup that used to come in a log cabin-shaped tin.
  • Abraham Lincoln: a United States president who (among his other accomplishments) was born in a log cabin.
  • Lincoln Logs: building toys shaped like little logs, traditionally made out of wood.
  • Log: “It’s big, it’s heavy, it’s wood.” A product with a catchy commercial and jingle: “…it fits on your back, good for a snack, it’s log log log…” (Really it’s from Ren & Stimpy.)

fireplace image by rmahle

goosey, loosely

goose_girlIt’s that time of year again. You know, when the goose is getting fat. And you know what? So is my goose list for this fine Themed Things Thursday. But I’m in a bit of a rush, so I’ve gotten a bit loose in my descriptions.

A flock of geese things

  1. one’s goose is cooked: an expression meaning that one is in trouble. Eg. “She knew her goose was cooked when she saw the flock of angry geese heading her way”
  2. a wild goose chase: an expression for a fruitless venture, usually involving a lot of wasted energy. And sometimes flying feathers.
  3. a goose walked over my grave: an expression meaning “got a sudden chill”
  4. goose bumps: bumps that a appear temporarily on the skin when a person is cold. Perhaps because the skin looks a bit like that of a plucked goose.
  5. what’s good for the goose is good for the gander: an expression meaning that both male and female should be plucked. Or otherwise get equal treatment.
  6. take a gander at: an expression meaning “have a look.” As in “Take a gander at those soldiers doing the goose step.”
  7. goose step: a formal style of military marching.
  8. Spruce Goose: an airplane made out of wood.
  9. to goose: to poke someone in the butt, or between the cheeks.
  10. gets my goose: an expression one says when something has annoyed or made angry. (Probably a corruption of the similar “gets my goat.”) You know what really gets my goose? Getting goosed.
  11. duck, duck, goose: a children’s game played in a group. Participants sit around in a circle and quack and honk. (No, not really. Click the link if you don’t already know the game.)
  12. Mother Goose: a name given to the author of traditional nursery rhymes, who may or may not have been a real individual.
  13. Gossie: a children’s book by Olivier Dunrea about a gosling and her bright red boots.
  14. “The Goose Girl”: a fairy tale about a girl who is frequently goosed. Or maybe not.
  15. The Golden Goose: a recipe for roasting a goose. Or maybe it’s another fairy tale.
  16. The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs: a fable attribute to Aesop about a couple who had a profitable business agreement with a goose until they got too greedy.
  17. killing the goose that laid the golden eggs: an expression based on the above fable, said of people who have it out for geese, and are worried about cholesterol levels.
  18. goose egg: a slang term for zero, based on the fact that goose eggs weigh absolutely nothing. Or maybe because of their shape.
  19. silly goose: what one might call a person who is behaving in a silly way.
  20. give a gift of geese: Heifer International offers geese among their gift options, getting a family a goose to raise. Much better than getting goosed.

simpleton_finds_the_golden_gooseold_mother_goose

the cutting edge

knife_12For last week’s ThThTh list, I set the table with forks and spoons. I said I’d be back later with the knives.

  1. like a hot knife through butter: an expression meaning that something was or can be cut easily
  2. not the sharpest knife in the drawer: an expression meaning “not very smart,” playing of the use of the word sharp as a synonym of intelligent.
  3. The Subtle Knife: A novel by Philip Pullman, second in the trilogy His Dark Materials. (It’s the sequel to The Golden Compass.)
  4. “3 Blind Mice”: a nursery rhyme and song in which a carving knife is used. Possibly is about Bloody Mary.

    Three blind mice, three blind mice,
    See how they run, see how they run,
    They all ran after the farmer’s wife,
    Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
    Did you ever see such a thing in your life,
    As three blind mice?

  5. going under the knife: an expression meaning “having surgery”
  6. “I always eat my peas with honey”: A poem of largely unknown origins. I first ever heard it while visiting my in-laws last week (and eating peas), and then encountered it a second time the next day when Magpie left it as a comment on my utensil list. Kind of eerie.

    I always eat my peas with honey;
    I’ve done it all my life.
    They do taste kind of funny but
    It keeps them on my knife.

  7. Shonen Knife: an all female “pop punk” band from Japan. They also have an album called Let’s Knife.
  8. Mack the Knife: a song from the Threepenny opera. Has been performed by many, From Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Louis Armstrong to Sting, The Doors and The Psychedlic Furs.
  9. “Cuts Like a Knife”: the title track from the 1983 Bryan Adams album (YouTube)
  10. Slash with a Knife, a book of works by artist Yoshitomo Nara with many paintings of angry and threatening-looking but cute litte kids.
  11. Knives can be used for slashing, stabbing, and throwing (as well as slicing, dicing and julienning), so they appear pretty frequently in movies as weapons. You might see them such in fight scenes (eg. West Side Story) or murder mysteries (eg. Gosford Park).
  12. The knife is one of the possible murder weapons in the boardgame Clue.
  13. “That’s not a knife. This is a knife.” A line from Crocodile Dundee. (See the scene on YouTube.)
  14. “Chefs do that”: A line from the movie The Long Kiss Goodnight. Geena Davis plays an amnesiac with no memory of her past life as an assassin. When she discovers her skill with knives, she briefly thinks she must have been a chef. Then she throws a knife and skewers a tomato against the wall, saying “chefs do that.” (You can see at least part of the scene in the trailer on YouTube.)
  15. knife throwing: a sport involving throwing knives at a target. (The goal is to hit the target with the point of the knife, not, for instance, the handle.)
  16. knife throwing act: involves a performer throwing knives around a person, with the goal of not impaling the person. Somewhat ironically considered an “impalement art.” Here’s an example of a mother throwing knives at her little kids in the 50s:
  17. knifehand strike: a martial arts strike using the “blade” of the hand (not the palm or a fist), and sometimes called a “karate chop.”
  18. “In Japan, the hand can be used like a knife.” A famous line from a 1970s commercial for the Ginsu knife.